The European Commission has upgraded its growth forecasts for 2023 and 2024, indicating an improving outlook for the European economy. Despite narrowly avoiding recession in the winter, the EU economy is predicted to grow by 1% this year and 1.7% in 2022, which is an increase from the previous forecast of 0.8% and 1.6%, respectively. These figures reflect a significant drop in energy prices, which cuts costs for businesses and eases the burden on households. Additionally, a robust job market and continued government stimulus measures are helping to contribute to the improving outlook. However, the European Central Bank’s recent rate hike to contain inflation will weigh on growth in the coming months.
There are expected to be significant differences between European Union Member States, with Germany’s economy predicted to slow sharply to 0.2% in 2023 while Italy’s economy could grow by 1.2%, and Portugal’s economy could expand by 2.4%. European industrial production data released on Monday showed signs of weakness, with production in March falling 4.1% among the 20 euro-user countries, worse than economists expected.
Despite the challenges, the European Commission remains optimistic about the economy, as falling energy prices and a resilient labor market on one hand, and financial markets on the other, underpin the forecast. However, the recent financial turmoil has made access to credit more difficult as “increased risk awareness” among banks, while rising interest rates have weighed on loan demand. Ultimately, the European economy may continue to struggle with tight monetary policy and a challenging global environment.